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Madeleine Albright, the first female secretary of state in U.S. history, has died

WASHINGTON, DC - MAY 09:  Former Secretary of State Madeline Albright testifies during a Senate Appropriations Committee hearing on Capitol Hill, on May 9, 2017 in Washington, DC. The committee was hearing testimony on "United States Democracy Assistance."  (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
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WASHINGTON, DC - MAY 09: Former Secretary of State Madeline Albright testifies during a Senate Appropriations Committee hearing on Capitol Hill, on May 9, 2017 in Washington, DC. The committee was hearing testimony on

Updated March 23, 2022 at 3:10 PM ET

Madeleine Albright, the first female U.S. secretary of state, has died, according to a statement from her family.

Albright was 84, and the cause of death was cancer, her family said.

"She was surrounded by family and friends. We have lost a loving mother, grandmother, sister, aunt, and friend," the statement said.

Albright was born in what was then Czechoslovakia and fled with her family after the Nazis occupied the country in 1939.

She served as secretary of state from 1997 to 2001 during the Clinton administration.

"Hillary and I are profoundly saddened by the passing of Madeleine Albright. She was one of the finest secretaries of state, an outstanding UN ambassador, a brilliant professor, and an extraordinary human being," former President Bill Clinton said in a statement Wednesday afternoon. "Few leaders have been so perfectly suited for the times in which they served."

Albright spoke with NPR last Juneahead of a meeting in Geneva between Russian and U.S. leaders. Albright recalled the first time she met Russian President Vladimir Putin, in 1999. He was "trying very hard to ingratiate himself with President Clinton," she said.

"Well, my first impression was that he was kind of trying to figure out who he was. But my impression in the second two meetings were that he very much liked the background of being in the Kremlin with all its history, that he was smart, that he was prepared and that he had a view about how things were going to go," Albright told NPR.

More to come.
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